Art of Furniture | Great Lakes by Design
A designer’s passion and work in the furniture industry continues to take form.
Dale H. Campbell, award-winning furniture designer and industry veteran, has a saying when it comes to the original lounge chair and ottoman designed through a partnership with Kindel Furniture Company in 2015: “Designed in Michigan, made in Michigan, enjoyed everywhere.”
In 2015 Campbell and Kindel, which is a family-owned furniture manufacturer based in Grand Rapids known for 100 percent American-made furnishings since its establishment in 1901, collaborated through the Designer Artist Series to create and co-brand original furniture designs. Campbell was the first designer to participate in the program series with the company.
“Kindel is one of the oldest U.S. manufacturers that still has people hand carving pieces—the old European, deep carving. The gold gilding is done by hand, and if there is a scene needed to be painted on doors, it is done by an artist right there in the factory,” said Campbell.
“Nothing is done overseas. It is the old U.S.A. craftsmanship at its absolute finest. For me as a designer to be a guest working with them I think is an incredible opportunity and it gives me a lot more exposure than what I have in my small studio,” added Campbell.
The Barn Beam Chair, which was introduced at Campbell’s full-service design studio and showroom known as Urban-Diversions in Traverse City in the VinModern Design collection, debuted with Kindel’s product line in the fall of 2015 as the Waterfront Lounge Chair and Ottoman.
Originally designed using reclaimed yellow pine and cypress, the Urban Diversions’ Barn Beam Chair features thick, robust arms carved from a single beam, woven lattice, a wide front stance, and a relaxed pitch to create a piece blending masculine and feminine lines. Through Kindel’s product line, the Waterfront Lounge Chair by Dale Campbell is also available in oak wood.
“The material we are using right now is oak, because we can do great ceruse finishes. It basically has one coat of stain on, and you take a wheel and run it over the oak so it pulls out the softer grain. It really accentuates the grain,” said Campbell. “Then when we put the second coat on, it leaves the lighter color deep into the grain so it really enhances it and makes it absolutely beautiful.”
Campbell added if clients prefer a painted finish for the lounge chair, maple or mahogany wood can also be used since it can be sanded down smooth, and results in a piano-quality finish.
“Some clients in Grand Rapids bought several of my chairs to put on top of a rooftop, so they had them done in mahogany in a marine finish,” said Campbell.
As the award-winning furniture designer continues to collaborate with Kindel, Campbell said they are poised to introduce a new sinker cypress collection in the high-point market in April. Due to the nature of the aged logs, furniture designed from the wood is “impervious to water.”
“The logs come out of the rivers in Louisiana that have been on the bottom of the river for many years,” said Campbell. “It won’t wick up any water, so it is a perfect wood for using outdoors.”
Campbell’s VinModern Design collection offered through his Urban Diversions studio also includes a transitional furniture design known as the Marsh Grass chair. The softer, contemporary piece is built using solid walnut planks and artfully positioned cypress spindles reminiscent of natural dune grass.
“The Marsh Grass Chair is probably one of my more artistic pieces,” said Campbell. “I designed it to give the feeling you are looking at natural grass.”
Drawing inspiration from his surroundings, such as nature, Campbell said he begins the design process with a sketch, rather than using CAD software on a computer.
“I’m kind of an old romantic. I like to see it in a 3-D drawing of my own hand instead of by computer,” said Campbell. “I have traveled the world from Europe to Asia and you are exposed to a lot of different architecture and clothing. Everything you see in different areas affects you and you remember it.”
Prior to launching his own furniture and interior design studio in Traverse City, Campbell spent time working in the furniture industry at the Michigan-based Lloyd Flanders. Despite having attended school to be more of an administrator, Campbell noted he had always been interested in art and soon started venturing into the field of furniture design to successful results.
His designs were quickly recognized by some of the highest honors in the industry. Campbell received the ADEX Platinum American Designer Excellence Award and Designer Excellence Award from the American Casual Furniture Association in 2005; and the Pinnacle Award in 2006.
“Design needs to be visually pleasing and ergonomically comfortable,” said Campbell. “Without fail, every time somebody sits in the Barn Beam Chair I have here in my studio, they get a smile on their face and start caressing that real large arm. They feel comfortable and secure: it makes them feel like they are in their spot.”
Photography courtesy Kindel Furniture Company